Panoramic view of The lace during final assembly.



2016  Amsterdam Light Festival 

The first step for the fabrication of The Lace was to determine how each lace motif could be crocheted.  The six antique motif designs  used for the proposal were found in a 100 year old archive of needle made laces and chosen for their beauty in repetition of the shape and their thematic variations. However, needle made lace proved to be not only very time consuming, but also not feasible as it  required working with short length of yarn .

The task was to find a method that would allow us to make a large scale lace motif with a continuous yarn, without cutting, to maximize the strength of the finished work. Crochet seems to be the most promising method that could simulate the appearance of the needle made lace while using a  continuous yarn.

Motif design from 'Needle Made Laces' TH De Dillmont, DMC Library

Video © 2016 Chessin Gertler & Choi+Shine

First prototype of full size motif.

Details of the first prototype

Details of the first prototype

The initial proposal called for electroluminescent wire, which emits light creating a beautiful glow around the Lace.  However, the EL wire proved too fragile and too difficult to crochet.  The light source within the wire often broke due to the bending of weaving or knitting  process.  Other optically emissive cords and wires were tested for the Lace, such as fibreoptic cords, but the light source could not travel very far due to the bending and the stiffness of the cord did not allow for the dimensional control  which resulted in uneven stitches and irregular patterns.

The best material was a 5mm double braided polyester cord, that was soft enough to weave,  weather-proof, and optically suitable with esternal light source.

The Lace used 73,000 ft (22,250 meters) of cord and weighs about 650 pounds (330kg).

The lace is made  from polyester and polyethylene.  It is anticipated that the lace will be recycled at the end of its life.

Sample test with EL wire

Diagram showing how to construct the motif with continous yarn.

Jin Choi, one of the two designers of the project who had never crocheted before, taught herself how to crochet for this project, and created the overall design as well as the six individual motifs and the border patterns seen in the Lace.

For each motif, Jin started with a small study, recreating traditional needle made Lace motif in crochet pattern.  Starting from the archive, she slowly crocheted big and bigger versions of each motif, adjusting the type and number of stitches and the paths, keeping the original design intact despite the increasing scale and thickness of the yarn.   Each motif is hand crocheted and consists of a single, continuous yarn, which is broken only for changing spools or for  intentional independent connectors.

For each motif, scaling the design took many trials, and she reworked the pattern many times before accepting the appearance of each motifs. It was very important to her to keep true to the original concept and to the historical custom of hand crochet.

Once she was satisfied that a motif was completed, she wrote detailed instruction and created a technical pattern for other weavers to follow.  Each of Jin's 6 prototype motifs were to be duplicated twice by other crocheters to make total of 18 motifs.  Due to the scale of the project and the weight of the material, crocheters suffered from cracked fingers and joint and muscle pain.  Many crocheters gave up and only few could contribute to the project.  

Crocheters: Jin Choi, Insuk Durham, Hyokyung Lee, Lara Pollack and Emma Lanctot

Drawings showing the Motif layout in 10cm x 10cm grid. Finished motifs were attached to Dyneema net for suspension.  For this assembly, it took 2 weeks for 4 people and 9,600 zip ties.

Assembly assistants: Miriam Robinson, Chessin Gurtler

Part of the beauty of the Lace comes from the illusion of magical levitation over the Herengracht.  Achieving this illusion required the use of modern high strength fibers and lighting experts from the Amsterdam Lighting Festival.

As the Lace motifs were completed, they were assembled on the floor of a large warehouse and joined at each edge, creating a 6.8m x 12m center panel.  Because the panel is made of knitted cord, it would stretch and deform if it is suspended only at its edges.  To prevent this and give shape to the lace, the panel was placed over a very thin but strong net made from Dyneema twine.  The net and the panels were joined, creating a non-stretching composite fabric, that will be hung in tensions over the Herengracht

The individual twines in the net are only 1.2 mm thick yet can each hold over 100kg.  Collectively, the net can hold far more than the weight of the net or its expected structural load.   At night, the twines can just be seen when the lace is closely viewed, but from even a few meters away, it is almost impossible to see anything but the Lace.

Drawings showing final design of the lace.  Red lines represents the folding lines to form a bonnet.

First hanging test.

The paper folded model was used to study the final form and hanging points.

Lighting test.  Visibility of the Dyneema net with the artificial and natural light was tested.

The Lace arrived in Amsterdam on time without any damage.  Installation began with unwrapping the package and unfolding the Lace without getting it tangled.

Four structural posts and structural system were devised by Amsterdam Light Festival with Choi+Shine's structural consultant  Árni Björn Jónasson at ARA Engineering in Iceland.   Installation took 3 days with 3 crews, a cherry picker and a crane.

The installtion work stopped many curious passers by.  Once installed, people from a neighboring office came to meet the designers, saying "We have no choice but to look at the art installed here for the next 6 weeks.  We are glad that it is such a beautiful piece that was chosen to be installed here.  Thank you for making beautiful art."

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The images and design  copyright 2016-2022  Choi+Shine Architects, LLC.  All rights reserved. 

 “The Lace” is trademark of Choi+Shine Architects.

Contact:  Choi+Shine Architects for written permission for image use.